THE FAMILY CLOUD
Well, I certainly hope as many of you as possible are having a happy new year. Lord knows they can’t say that in the Gaza Strip right now. I’ve been wanting to address that situation for some time – to let it be known that Hamas is indeed a cancer that must be eradicated, but that this doesn’t mean Israel should eradicate half of Gaza along with them. Under the circumstances, though, I think I’ll keep it light around this part of cyberspace. Lord knows, “light” would be a good change for me and my family. The Spiros aren’t exactly hitting on all cylinders lately. We’ve had one of those fortnights to forget … and the cloud seems to want to linger a while longer.
Our nightmare began when we drove out to Indiana on Christmas day. Christmas is typically the best time to travel on the freeways – the only people you encounter are Jews and a few truckers, and when you’re heading to the Midwest, there aren’t too many Jews making the trip. When the weather is decent, you can reach your destination in warp speed. Unfortunately, this year’s trip was marred by my older daughter Hannah coming down with a nasty upper respiratory infection. There’s nothing like a nine hour car ride when you’re feverish, achy, nauseated … you get the idea. She spent the next several days pretty much cooped up in my brother-in-law’s guest bedroom. Not exactly an idyllic vacation.
Still, at least Hannah had some interesting visuals on her trip. She was the one family member who got to watch me open my brother-in-law’s front door, take one or two steps, and then – in what seems to be less than a nanosecond – fall flat on my ass. Here in Maryland, we have small ice patches. In Indiana, they have ice sheets, and I stepped right onto one. What saved me is that it happened so quickly that I hardly had time to tense up. That has blissfully kept my back, neck and hip pain to a minimum.
The next victim of the Family Cloud was my wife Kathy. She picked up Hannah’s bug on or around New Year’s Day, and she’s just now going to work for the first time. (Frankly, she didn’t sound all that healthy to me, but she’s heading in.) Then, on Sunday, I came down with the same bug, and it has gotten worse, not better. My 87 year old mother? She got her bug on Monday – and yes, in her case, it does scare me. Yesterday (Tuesday, January 6th), was my younger daughter’s opportunity to enjoy the family bug. She’s home from school today … but at least she can sleep. Me? You’ve got to be kidding.
While things sound bleak around here, the Cloud has brought some silver linings. For starters, we’re getting to spend more time with the dogs we abandoned during our vacation. There’s nothing quite like unconditional love, and only a dog-owner really knows what that means. Moreover, last evening, I treated myself to a movie, which is something I don’t do very often. I watched a 1998 Wes Anderson film called Rushmore. It’s a highly creative, off-beat comedy. Have you seen it? I thought the film was very good, and the soundtrack was even better. I hadn’t heard the Stones’ “I Am Waiting” for years (my vinyl copy of Aftermath is basically unlistenable), and nearly all that song is in the movie. Anderson also put in Ooh La La by the Faces (remember when Rod Stewart didn’t suck?), A Quick One by the Who (one of their best songs), Oh Yoko by John Lennon, a couple of excellent Cat Stevens’ songs, and the Kinks’ Nothing in This World Can Stop Me from Worrin Bout That Girl. You could justify seeing the flick for the soundtrack alone, but I’m telling you, the writing and acting is damn good too. Rent it. You won’t be sorry.
Perhaps I will watch more movies this week, I’m not sure. But to be honest with you, my thoughts are focused more on beating this bug before the weekend. I have two Moses the Heretic talks scheduled, one on Sunday and one on Monday, and they will both be significantly longer than the typical half-hour bookstore talk. On Sunday, I will be speaking at 10:30 a.m. at the Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Temple (7727 Persimmon Tree Lane, Bethesda, MD). On Monday, I will be speaking at 6:30 p.m. at the Washington, D.C. Goethe Institute (812 7th St., N.W. – one block from the Chinatown arch). If you live in the D.C. area or know anyone who does, I love it if you or your friends would come and watch me gargle with salt water and talk about God and geopolitics all at the same time. If you’re Jewish and an only child, you learn at an early age to be conversant about politics, theology, and every miniscule thing that ails you. Hopefully, I will have mastered that combo by Sunday morning … or at least get myself cured. In any event, all kidding aside, I’d love to see you at one of those talks.
For now, though, I’m going to sign off and try to relax. May you all stay healthy, but don’t forget to keep a keen eye on what is happening in the Middle East. We need to watch Israel so that it doesn’t screw up in its duties as radiation oncologist. Ask any of those doctors and they’ll you how careful you have to be when you’re zapping a tumor not to take out some healthy organs along with it.